Science Edition - Research Pays Dividends

Research pays dividends

All three of us are growers. We are also the research committee chairs for your provincial canola organizations. Wearing both of these hats, we have a responsibility to make sure the levy dollars you entrust to us are used wisely. We know that well-spent research investment provides a very good return on our levy payment.

You want payback proof? Start with the grower experiences in this magazine, then work through the research summaries. As you read through this Canola Digest Science Edition 2017, you’ll think of lots of ways to apply the research and improve profitability on your own farm.

At SaskCanola, the goals with research investment are to decrease production risk, increase sustainability and enhance producer profitability. In 2015-16, SaskCanola contributed over $2.2 million toward 74 canola-related research projects and programs. These include research into rotation of clubroot-resistance genes, assessing the impact of the new midge species, and pre-harvest desiccation practices to dry down crop for straight-combining. SaskCanola budgeted $2.4 million for research in 2016-17. When growers invest in research, it opens up other sources of funding. For every $1 that SaskCanola commits to research, it leverages another $3 to $4 from its partners.

Alberta Canola spends about 25 per cent of its budget on research. This year, it put money into projects on long-term sustainable rotations, finding new sources of clubroot resistance genes and a weather-based real-time insect monitoring program. In 2017, Alberta Canola spent around $1.5 million on 59 new and ongoing research projects. Like SaskCanola, Alberta Canola generated around $3 from funding partners for every grower dollar it spent on research this year.

Manitoba Canola Growers spent more than $580,000 directly on research in 2016-17, and expects that number to increase in 2017-18. While the production area in Manitoba ranks third in overall size, the Manitoba Canola Growers are able to extend the impact of its research investment dramatically, reaching an average of $12 in research partnership and funding dollars leveraged for every grower dollar it spent on research in 2016-17. Targeted research topics include verticillium and clubroot monitoring and management, agronomic performance of multiple hybrid and open-pollinated varieties, and more.

Our three organizations often work together to jointly fund research. Many of the projects described in this magazine have funding from two or three of our organizations. One example is the popular variety-comparing Canola Performance Trials. Another is the lygus and flea beetle thresholds study, led by Hector Carcamo. Grower organizations invested $426,000 in that project and if it helps growers avoid unnecessary insecticide application on just 40,000 acres, it pays for itself. In reality, this information will help us all make better decisions on millions of acres per year and for many years to come. Dividends from that one study alone will be huge.

SaskCanola and Alberta Canola also worked with the Government of Canada to fund an Agri-Science Project titled “Canola Disease Management Tools for the Prairies – Blackleg and Sclerotinia”. See updates for these studies.

Finally, through our representation on the Canola Council of Canada (CCC), all three grower organizations helped to select and fund Growing Forward 2 Science Cluster projects. These are featured throughout Canola Digest Science Edition 2017.

Helping to move these discoveries into our on-farm practices, the CCC agronomy specialists also review the research and talk to the scientists. They look for practical and profitable applications that end up in Canola Watch articles, in videos and in demonstrations at canolaPALOOZA, canoLAB and other important events our organizations help fund and plan. In time, new ideas trickle throughout agronomy and extension staff and those ideas that are truly sound become part of the best practices for canola crop establishment, fertility management, integrated pest management and harvest management.

Eventually, new approaches to profitable canola production cycle back to everyone in one way or another, spreading the dividends across the Prairies. And where do all these new approaches start? With research.